Lee County adds superintendent evaluation

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The Lee County School District will begin establishing goals for its leader.
The district’s school board adopted last week a new policy to annually evaluate its superintendent. The evaluation will follow a rubric established by the Mississippi School Boards Association and will be based on goals set at the beginning of the school year.
“I think it will be helpful for both the superintendent and school board,” said Lee County School Board President Sherry Mask. “It is an opportunity to sit down one-on-one and have an open discussion.”
Districts recently were required to implement a superintendent evaluation, Mask said. The Lee County District did not previously have a formal evaluation for its leader.
The reason, she said, is that in elected districts like Lee County, the superintendent is accountable to the voters rather than to the school board. The school board cannot fire a superintendent the way it can in a district where the school chief is appointed.
“With elected superintendents, no one ever really saw a purpose in doing an evaluation because you can make recommendations and let him know you are happy or not, but there are really no consequences,” Mask said. “There is really not a lot the board can do other than control salary.”
That said, Mask noted it will be helpful to have specific goals and evaluate the superintendent according to them. Those goals will be developed during the summer and the evaluation will follow at the end of a school year. Thus, the first true evaluation under the new policy will come in the spring of 2014, after goals are set next summer.
“We are very communicative and everyone knows where everyone stands,” Mask said. “I think our superintendents have always known how the board felt. There are some districts where that is not the case.”
The MSBA instrument evaluates the superintendent’s success in attaining district goals, leadership skills, implementation of performance standards and success in using data.
“It is a helpful process,” said Lee County Superintendent Jimmy Weeks. “It gives the board an opportunity to set those goals and to follow up on them and make sure they are met.”
chris.kieffer@journalinc.com